TV Article

Cast Away

Here's how to be a reality TV contender. New shows ''The Restaurant,'' ''The Apprentice,'' and ''American Princess'' want you

The Restaurant | MEATY PREMISE DiSpirito will head up a reality restaurant
Image credit: Rocco DiSpirito: Paul Drinkwater
MEATY PREMISE DiSpirito will head up a reality restaurant

Dying to get your 15 minutes of fame but can't stomach ''Survivor'''s bug-munching or ''The Bachelor'''s group dates from hell? Never fear: There's a whole new batch of reality TV shows currently searching for brave souls like yourself. With eager candidates lining up for a handful of spots (not every show attracts the 70,000 wannabes ''American Idol'' did this season, but most receive thousands of applications), proving you're a prime time player means going above and beyond the standard application. EW.com compiled some tips from reality TV execs to help your application rise to the top of the mailbag, plus information on how to apply for four shows that are casting right now.

Actors Need Not Apply Sure, it seems like everyone on ''The Real World'' and ''Joe Millionaire'' eventually announces their plans to become a spokesmodel/actor/professional pitchperson, but mentioning Hollywood dreams in your application (for anything other than ''Star Search'' or ''American Idol'') could send it straight into the recycling bin. ''It's fine if someone wants to be on TV but hasn't really thought about it as a career,'' says ''American Princess'' executive producer Laura Fuest. ''But we want to avoid the ones who are calculating about it.'' Plus, many of the new reality TV shows are looking for average Joes who reflect their target audience: ''Who Wants to Be A Superhero?'' is scouting for devotees of the genre at comic book and ''Star Trek'' conventions, while ''The Restaurant'' is seeking experienced waiters, sous chefs, and busboys: ''We're looking to staff a restaurant,'' says an NBC spokesperson. ''And these people will keep their jobs even after the show is over.''

Head Midwest Casting directors are nixing Los Angeles and New York for cattle calls, deeming the urbanites too media-savvy for their own good. ''It's getting increasingly difficult to find the right people in those places, so for 'Mr. Personality' we went to smaller cities, like Atlanta and Milwaukee,'' says ''Personality'' executive producer Brian Gadinsky, who also has ''Who Wants to Be A Superhero'' in the works. ''The further you get from the media centers, the less jaded people are.'' Adds Fuest: ''And you don't want someone who's going to be unfazed when we take them to some amazing castle.''

Grab Attention Want to dance naked with a cat on your head in your audition tape? Go ahead, but only if you'd be willing to do the same thing on national television. ''I think it's almost always a good thing to grab our attention, but it's not good if you're misrepresenting yourself,'' says Fuest. ''Some people will be outrageous on tape, then we get them on the phone and they're not that person at all. That really won't get you cast.'' Also realize that goofy may get you onto the first episode, but nowhere near the final round. ''Sure, we're going to see Diaperman on 'Superhero,''' says Gadinsky. ''But hopefully we'll also see the next version of 'Spider-man.' You'll see those Diaperman types on the first few episodes, but kind of like what you see on 'American Idol.' They'll be famous for being terrible.'' Ouch.

Originality Counts As the clichégoes, be yourself -- unless the real you is one big cliché. ''When you're talking to me, don't use air quotes or say 'no worries,' 'I think outside the box,' 'anyhoo,' or 'at the end of the day.' If you can do that much, you'll pass the first phase,'' sighs Gadinsky. And remember that what you might find embarrassing (an impoverished childhood, stripping your way though college) can be reality TV gold. ''You want people with a story, people who've had hard times and have experienced some self-realizations,'' says Fuest. ''Having 10 nice blond girls is just boring.''

Here's how to apply for...

Show NBC's ''The Apprentice'' (late fall-early spring 2004)
The Dish Donald Trump and ''Survivor'' creator Mark Burnett are looking for the next titan of business. Ivy Leaguers won't necessarily have the upper hand: The show is seeking contestants from all walks of life who can ''succeed in a cutthroat environment. Let the backstabbing begin!
Apply Click here to apply

Show ABC's ''Rich Guy, Poor Guy'' (as yet not scheduled)
The Dish Smash together Andrew Firestone and Evan Marriott and you've got the idea. Two bachelors compete for the attentions of a field of women, but it isn't until they've made their final selections that one bachelor is revealed to be rich and the other poor.
Apply Click here to apply

Show NBC's ''The Restaurant'' (airs in July)
The Dish Rocco DiSpirito (Food Network) is staffing up a new restaurant in Manhattan, while producer Mark Burnett (''Survivor'') will whip up a ''reality drama'' about what happens behind the kitchen door.
Apply Send a tape illustrating personality and experience (plus a picture and résumé) by April 23 to: Rocco DiSpirito, c/o Restaurant Staffing, 1114 Avenue of the Americas, 18th floor, New York, N.Y. 10036.

Show The WB's ''Who Wants To Be A Superhero?'' (sometime during the 2003-04 season)
The Dish Think you can top Daredevil or the Hulk with a fictional fighting machine of your own? And, more importantly, are you willing to dress up like him, her or it? The contestant who creates the coolest superhero (and wears the costume, too) will develop his ideas with the help of comic legend Stan Lee (of Spider-Man fame).
Apply Open auditions are in the works.

SHOW NBC's ''American Princess'' (debuts fall 2003)
The Dish Gawky young women go all Audrey Hepburn in this ''My Fair Lady''-esque show, which invites a few ''diamonds in the rough'' to live the life of a royal. She who becomes most polished will be receive a real royal title and a ''life-changing'' sum of cash.
Apply Click here to apply

Originally posted Apr 24, 2003
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